Tell us about The Doodle Dance Show and your inspiration for its creation...
Doodle Dance began as a segment in a Greenwich Dance cabaret with visual artist Sally McKay. It was a free for all of dancing and drawing. Unbeknown to the participants it was filmed from above. The resulting animated film was screened at the end of the night providing a lovely, simple arc to the show. It was wild, creative and seemingly spontaneous. In our opinion all the elements needed to make work. We thought there were possibilities to develop the segment into a longer event, a show even.
How has the work evolved from the initial idea?
We immediately knew we wanted a large team of experts to bring the idea to fruition. With Kat Bridge working as creative producer and Greenwich Dance supporting we planned an initial development phase. We worked with the original artist Sally McKay to do some workshops. We had some groups of children and parents to test the ideas and began developing the technical side of the show. We wrote a simple narrative to give the event some shape and forward momentum. We wanted to keep the spontaneous nature of the activity and allow it the possibility of greater depth.
Further workshops brought in more collaborators, artist Jess Flood Paddock gave us life drawing classes, theatre maker Guy Dartnell encouraged us to look outside of the scope of the paper, literally and metaphorically. Gareth Williams composed us a beautiful soundtrack full of excitement and melancholy. Beky Stoddart brought a series of technical elements that have remained true to the values of the project whilst giving it a good theatrical polish. Oh, and we dropped the idea of filming the show from above and playing it back to the audience as a coda. We realised the meaning of the show had to sit within the show! What remained the same was a desire to make something engulfing, creative and meaningful (whatever that means).
What has been the most challenging part of this process?
There are lots of aspects to the experience of the show. It is a theatre piece, dance performance, drawing workshop, dance class, light and music installation, as well as being a party and a bonding experience for young people and the grown ups they come with. The challenge has been to balance those elements into something coherent.
Because the Doodle Dance Show has a form that none of us had experienced and being a new team we have had to feel our way to where we are now. We haven’t been able to short cut to decisions and that has given the project real backbone.
What are your plans/hopes for the show after the first tour?
That’s simple - we would like as many people as possible to experience the show in it’s current form. So national and international touring, festivals and events.
We’d also like to experiment with putting it into non traditional spaces, museums, galleries, perhaps outdoors. We want the process to inform us so we don’t really know yet, such is this project.
How did you begin working together and have you always wanted to make work for young people?
We began working together in 2004 on a New Art Club piece called ‘The Short Still Show’ for The Place Prize. We have continued to be collaborators on lots of each others projects both as a performers, artistic advisors and directors. As we are partners in real life too we are generally tangled up in each others work. It’s fun to be able to mix up the creative with the domestic. It can also be a bit confusing if one of us thinks we are rehearsing and the other one is emptying the bins.
As teachers and workshop leaders we have always had an interest in the power of creativity to engage, stimulate and challenge young people and ultimately change peoples’ lives. We don’t see our work as being for young people particularly - just people.
What was it like to work with Greenwich Dance on this project?
It has been essential having the support and expertise of Greenwich Dance as creative producers on this project.
Kat and Olive have been very hands on – which is extremely useful in such a logistically complicated project with so many collaborators. They have asked incisive questions, set up good discussions, moved us on when were stuck and offered solutions to problems.
As a receiving house themselves they are very aware of the needs of venues. Their experience in managing family events in particular has been invaluable.
We can feel the weight of their investment in this project which goes way beyond financial and practical support.
The shared responsibility has taken the pressure from our shoulders, freeing us up to realise the work to it’s fullest. The result is a product we have all been involved in at every stage and something we can share in the delight of. Taking us back to the core ideas of the piece, collective, creative and magical.
Tom and Anna x
The Doodle Dance Show is commissioned and produced by Greenwich Dance, co-commissioned by DanceEast and South East Dance and supported by Arts Council England and Cambridge Junction.